It's the Environment, Stupid.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Nuclear takes the lead

"Interest Revives Worldwide in Nuclear Energy"(A recent article from AFP posted on WBSCD.org).

I really don’t like the fact that nuclear power has gained such a prominence in this mitigating climate change debate.

How much money are we going to sink into increasing nuclear energy production to maintain the status quo? Can we put that money into clean coal technologies instead? Or if it is decided we must have nuclear energy (because I doubt I’ll be consulted on this decision) why must we build nuclear plants the way we built them 50 years ago? Can we come up with a new design that is more efficient and uses less power (because it really is silly to have a power generator needing lots of power to run itself.)

Nuclear power will never be the answer until there is a way to:
a) safely store the current waste (safe does not mean holding barrels designed to last 50 years since this stuff will be active for long, long past that time – nor does it mean exporting nuclear waste to different countries, or exporting it to the moon – can you imagine if a shuttle full of nuclear waste went the way of the Challenger?).
Or b) not have any by-products. (no, this is not impossible, it will just take a little bit of research and innovative design…)

Have we completely disregarded renewables altogether? Europeans think there should be more research into renewables, according to this Eurobarometer survey, even though the nuclear industry in Europe says this is not an accurate reflection about public opinion on nuclear energy (now why would they say something like that?)

Why not rethink the way we do energy – not just how it’s made, but how it is distributed. Vijay Vaitheeswaran has a great book Power to the People that rethinks the future of energy.

So this brings me back to my usual state of bafflement - why is it so hard to convince governments and their corporate pals to try something new? What have they got against the greater good?

2 Comments:

  • I don't think anyone, and that includes folks like me who work in the nuclear energy industry, are claiming that it is the one and only solution to the world's energy needs.

    But what we do say is this: Going forward, if you want to be able to generate abundant amounts of affordable electricity, nuclear energy has to be part of the mix along with clean coal and renewables. The need for nuclear becomes even more imperative when you consider that we're likely headed for a future where carbon emissions are tightly controlled.

    As to your concerns, you should know that our CEO, Skip Bowman, is taking pains to address them directly. Click here for a speech he gave Monday in Houston to see what I'm talking about.

    As to the polls: My concern is based on the fact that the polls were taken back in October and November, we'll before the current European cold snap and disruption of Russia's natural gas supply. That's a fact that has often been ommitted from some, but not all, of the press coverage.

    My guess is that poll results might look a little different now.

    In any case, I hope you stop by our blog sometime, and join the conversation. There's nothing preventing an energy future that includes both nuclear and renewables.

    By Blogger Eric McErlain, at 13:29  

  • Great post, those are some big and challenging questions!

    By Blogger David Jeffery, at 19:31  

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